CVBC Complaints Process

The CVBC has the authority and duty to investigate complaints about veterinarians in BC. The CVBC’s complaints process follows the framework set by the Veterinarians Act. The process is driven by the Investigation Committee who provides direction and decides how each complaint will be resolved. If a complaint proceeds to a discipline hearing, the Discipline Committee will determine the resolution.

The CVBC investigates allegations regarding the conduct or competence of veterinarians. The Veterinarians Act gives the CVBC authority to investigate complaints about or veterinarians and to address concerns that present a risk to the public.

If an investigation raises concerns about a veterinarian’s conduct or competency, the CVBC takes a remedial and collaborative approach to resolving those concerns.

Before you submit a complaint

If you have a concern about the care your animal has received or your veterinarian’s conduct, often the best first step is to discuss the matter with your veterinarian. Many concerns relate to misunderstandings that can be resolved by clear and forthright communication. As well, when dealing with a major animal health issue, obtaining a second opinion may give you a different perspective or additional helpful information and added comfort regarding your questions.

How to submit a complaint

If you are unable to resolve matters directly with your veterinarian, you may submit a formal complaint. To submit a formal complaint, you must deliver it to the Registrar in writing. The CVBC will not accept verbal or anonymous complaints. A complaint can be submitted via e-mail, mail or fax to the CVBC office. Contact information can be found here.

What your complaint letter should contain

A complaint letter should include:

  • your full name and complete contact information (address and phone number)
  • your animal’s name
  • name and facility of the veterinarian you wish to complaint about
  • name and facility of any other veterinarians you have seen or consulted
  • a detailed account of the events leading to your complaint
  • any medical records you may have for your animal

This information is necessary to ensure that the complaint is properly investigated.
Please note that we will generally share your complaint with the veterinarian to seek a reply.

How your complaint will be handled

The CVBC makes every effort to handle all complaints as quickly as possible. You may be asked to provide additional information during an investigation. You are entitled to receive information about the progress of the investigation and to learn of its outcome.
The CVBC complaints process is confidential. Most complaints are resolved through the complaints process and do not proceed to discipline. Handling a complaint consists of several steps outlined below. As each complaint is unique, these steps provide a general outline subject to modification.

  1. CVBC receives your written complaint.
  2. Preliminary Evaluation: If your complaint contains all the required information, the Investigation Committee will review your complaint, determine whether it is within our jurisdiction, and direct next steps, if any.
  3. Investigation: Your complaint is shared with the veterinarian(s) involved for an opportunity to respond. A complaint inspector will be assigned to gather any relevant information, including medical records and responses from those involved, and review and analyze the information.
  4. The complaints inspector will present a report to the Investigation Committee for consideration. Most complaints are resolved at this stage. If there are some concerns with the veterinarian’s conduct or competency, the CVBC usually takes a remedial approach to resolve those concerns. If the Investigation Committee is critical of the veterinarian, the CVBC may:
    • provide the veterinarian with advice and/or require the veterinarian to take educational courses or other steps to improve practice;
    • collaborate with the veterinarian to develop a plan to improve practice;
    • have the veterinarian commit to not repeat certain conduct and/or issue a warning that if similar conduct reoccurs, more serious action may be considered; and/or
    • impose interim restrictions or suspensions.
  5. Discipline process: The Investigation Committee may authorize the issuance of a citation if remediation is not appropriate or sufficient to address the concerns. A citation is a formal document that lists the allegations against the veterinarian and provides notices that there will be a hearing before the Discipline Committee. Whether for a complaint reaches this stage depends on the specifics as well as the veterinarian's willingness to remediate if necessary.

 

What the CVBC is unable to do

There are certain concerns that the CVBC is unable to address as they are not within our jurisdiction. If you submit a complaint, the CVBC is not able to:

  • pay money to a complainant or award damages
  • order a veterinarian to provide reimbursement or pay any amount of money to a complainant or other veterinarian
  • order a veterinarian to provide or pay for treatment for your animal
  • provide medical advice or treatment
  • refer you to a new veterinarian
  • give legal advice or assist you in legal proceedings against a veterinarian
  • address business disputes between veterinarians.